In a very unusual move, the Vatican has issued yet another clarification of Pope Benedict’s remarks at Regensburg on Islam the other day.
As Muslim protests get much media coverage and memories of the Mohammed cartoon-related violence remain fresh, I think the Vatican is worried that the reaction could lead to violence against Christians in Muslim-dominated countries. Which is ironic considering that what the Pope was protesting was religion-motivated violence.
Apparently, the statement from the official Vatican spokesman yesterday wasn’t deemed sufficient and so Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State and number 2 man in the Vatican, came out with a news statement.
Pope Benedict is dismayed, the cardinal said, because his words were “interpreted in a manner that in no way corresponds to his intentions.” Far from belittling the faith of Muslims, he noted, the Holy Father had explicitly warned, in that same speech, against “the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom.”
Citing the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate (doc), Cardinal Bertone said that Pope Benedict held the Islamic faith in “esteem,” and strongly favors inter-religious dialogue. He said that the Pope hopes the present “uneasy moment” can be overcome, and “collaboration may intensify” between Christians and Muslims.
I think what we have here is a mounting concern that the Pope’s words—which were clearly true when he said them and what he meant in the first place—could result in fresh persecutions of innocent Christians, again proving the Pope’s point.
Islam is an irony-impaired religion.